Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day 2020

In this unprecedented time, we come together to honor the men and women who have served this country. We thank you for your courage and your sacrifice. Have a safe Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

What week is this again?

Can you believe we're now in week 10 of our "new normal"? It feels like time is moving slow and fast at the same time - its a strange world for sure and so much different from anything any of us imagined.  While there are many challenges, there are a number of 'silver linings' that have come out of this pandemic and one is being able to catch up with teams from around MHRI at their weekly staff meetings.

Over the last few weeks I've visited each MHRI departmental staff meeting and couldn't be more proud. Our associates, managers and investigators are being creative in identifying innovative ways to continue the great work we do while staying safe and having a bit of fun. Thank you for your warm welcome into your staff meetings and the opportunity to hear from each of you.

I've also really enjoying having the chance to hear about the things you are doing to stay healthy and well. Some of you are creating great fitness habits such as walking, jogging and virtual exercise classes. Others are exploring healthy cooking recipes and keeping up with their gardening. It's been wonderful getting to know you (and sometimes your children and pets!) on our video sessions.  It was especially nice when people shared the 'fun things' they are now doing, like ballroom dancing! Again, thank you for such an inviting space and getting to know you better.

Please stay safe and continue to practice physical distancing while staying socially connected!

Office of Contracts and Grants Management Team meet with Dr. Weissman

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Georgetown-Howard-MedStar GHUCCTS Receives $24.3 Million CTSA from NIH

Congratulations to the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) for receiving a $24.3 million Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) from the NIH.  This renewal marks the third 5-year award for GHUCCTS, which has secured close to $90 million in research funding for its member institutions.

GHUCCTS' mission is to advance research and training with excellence, innovation, collaboration, and efficiency and it's great news to share that we will be able to do just that while engaging our communities in clinical research. 

Over the last 10 years, GHUCCTS has accomplished several goals including:
MHRI has been an integral part of GHUCCTS from the beginning, providing the largest clinical settings and providing leadership in several components. Congratulations to all of our GHUCCTS investigators and collaborators. Let us continue to improve the health and wellness of our surrounding communities as we advance research!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Celebrating Nurses Week

Guest Blogger:
Joan Bardsley MBA, RN, CDE, FAADE
Assistant Vice President, Nursing and Research Integration

Nurses Week starts this Wednesday, May 6th. The WHO has declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife in honor of Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. I find it somewhat fortuitous considering the role nursing is playing in the pandemic.

On a normal day, nurses are heroes. But right now, during this COVID-19 crisis, the sacrifice and dedication is even more deserving of recognition. A simple thanks for what they do every day and especially now is so important. Our MHRI nurses have shown incredible flexibility and tenacity to ensure our research participants are safe. Our nurses are supporting COVID-19 projects that will help us learn more about this pandemic in the future. In addition, many have volunteered for projects to call associates with testing results and advising on follow up. It is gratifying that so many are having the opportunity to learn about what our nurses do in general and how they contribute to research.

Below are two highlights of our great MHRI nurses doing what they do best: helping.

Maureen McNulty was redeployed from MHRI to MWHC Occupational Health a little over a month ago. It was pretty chaotic when she first arrived because a formal process had not yet been established for communicating and evaluating COVID-19 associate testing results. However fast forward three weeks, and they are  using an efficient, multi-system process to track, report & return our associates to work after testing or quarantine. She occasionally donned her quality assurance hat to provide feedback on how to improve processes & documentation! During this crisis, Occupational Health has expanded its hours to accommodate our associates, so it has been interesting to return to working evenings & weekends, which she haven’t done in 20 years! All in all, she feels very grateful for the opportunity to support-- in some small way-our incredible MWHC workforce during this challenging time. She is really proud of the  team!
Maureen McNulty (center) with other nurses working in Occupational Health

Terry Moriarty
MedStar Health Research Institute’s Medical and Surgical Research Network research nurses Terry Moriarty, Kristin Garman, and Melissa McLawhorn have been working together with the rest of the MedStar team to offer patients diagnosed with COVID-19 the opportunity to participate in research studies. These studies are varied and include therapeutic drug trials, biologic sample collection to better understand the disease and develop testing assays, plasma transfusions, retrospective chart reviews for data points, and imaging studies for machine learning to help future patients. Our research nurses are working at all hours to obtain informed consent, administer research drugs, obtain imaging, draw labs, and so much more. The research nurse team is excited that MedStar has these opportunities available for patients with COVID-19 to be able to participate in research to improve outcomes and that they can play a key role in helping to treat this disease and serve the community. They also want to give a shout out to the staff nurses who are taking care of the research patients, “we couldn’t be successful without your help!”  

Sue Cranford, RN, Jennifer Latteri, BSN, RN, CCRC, and Rachel Campbell, RN, were quick to heed the call and sign-up to assist Occupational Health in making phone calls to COVID positive MedStar employees. All three RNs worked weekends, day and evening hours and adjusted their research work hours to accommodate the request.
“I was surprised by the number of people that did not think they would be positive due to minimal symptoms, and at the varying symptoms that were reported. I am so appreciative of the fact that I was able to help out in these uncertain times,” said Sue Cranford, RN.
Rachel Campbell, RN, was also happy to help Occupational Health and, at the same time, was able to successfully enroll patients in two MUMH inpatient cardiology studies.
Rachel Campbell

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

We Remain Hopeful

Below is my monthly message for the May 2020 edition of the MHRI newsletter, Focus. You can view Focus online at

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
"Life is like a rainbow….you need both rain and sun to make its colors appear"
Last month, I shared with you the word cloud we created at our MHRI Virtual Town Hall when asked "how are you feeling?" It represented the mix of intense feelings we are all experiencing, with 'anxious' being the dominant emotion. One month later, we remain in the midst of the pandemic.  Now, layered upon the intense emotions, is the fact that it has gone on for several weeks. It's therefore not surprising that when we repeated this exercise a few days ago at another MHRI Town Hall, the second most common word became 'overwhelmed'. But want to know what the most common feeling was among our associates? Hopeful! 
Hope is the feeling when we have an expectation of positive outcomes. Hope is derived from optimism. According to Webster's dictionary, hope (as a verb) is defined as "expect with confidence and anticipation." 

However, hope is NOT a wish or a dream. The psychologist Charles Snyder made the point that the difference between hope and desire is that hope includes practical pathways to an improved future.  
At MedStar Health, we have practical pathways to navigate this pandemic. Our MedStar heroes are demonstrating this every day and as a result, they are saving lives. This week, the 1000th COVID19 patient was discharged from a MedStar Health hospital to the uplifting clap line. And while this pandemic continues to evolve, we continuing to look forward, make plans, and carry those plans out in a coordinated fashion across the system. 
At MHRI, I could not be prouder of our associates, managers, and investigators in their ability to look forward, make plans, and skillfully put those plans into action. Having just completed my visits to each MHRI departmental staff meeting, the dedication and creativeness to keep research running, in a safe manner that supports clinical operations, is amazing. 
Because of early pro-active operational and protocol modifications (such as tele-health follow-up visits or remote monitoring), we have maintained over 90% of studies to some degree. Even more astonishing is the success in standing up COVID studies (now well over 40) across the system and becoming national leaders in multi-center trial enrollment.  
However, the email from Dr. Mimi Novello, VPMA at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, reminded me that research is more than creating new knowledge…. it is creating hope. Here is an excerpt: "Neil, I wish you could be here on rounds with me to see how enthusiastic our teams are about participating in these studies. The glimmer of hope that I saw in the eyes of the intensivist when we discussed the plasma study was so rewarding. Our caregivers really want to be a part of the long-term solution and you are doing so much to make that happen. So truly, the gratitude goes to you and your teams." 
Thank you, Dr. Novello, for sharing that with us and for what your team is doing to take care of patients today and advance health for tomorrow. It's a great reminder for all of us to see the brilliant colors of hope, especially in these difficult times. 
Stay safe everyone -  stay physically distanced and emotionally connected!

Read Focus at

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Benchmarking Another Month - MHRI Town Hall

A few days ago MHRI associates came together for another virtual town hall. To check in and benchmark the continued impact of the pandemic, we asked our associates the same question that we did to open last month: In one (or two) words: How are you feeling today?

This month, it made me proud to see that "hopeful" was the largest! There are still mixed feelings, but there is clearly a sentiment that we will emerge from the other side of this... and do so a stronger research organization.

We continue to be social connected while physically distanced. The work that is happening across the system, include at the Research Institute, couldn't happen without the dedication of our associates. Thank you all!